By: Mawusie P.I Dumbuya
Information Communication & Outreach Manager
National Commission for Persons With Disability (NCPD)
Sierra Leone’s President, Julius Maada Bio, has set an ambitious development agenda to propel the nation towards prosperity. The “Operation Feed Sierra Leone” initiative is central to this vision, which aims to transform the country’s agriculture sector and ensure food security for all. To achieve this goal successfully, development partners need to collaborate with the National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPD); by actively involving persons with disabilities (PWDs) in agricultural activities, we can foster inclusivity, empower a marginalized group, and enhance the effectiveness of this initiative.
The Need for Development Partnerships:
Development partners are crucial in supporting national governments’ efforts to achieve their developmental goals. In the case of Sierra Leone, partnering with the NCPD becomes imperative due to the following reasons:
1. Inclusivity and Equality: Persons with disabilities have long been marginalized, facing numerous barriers to accessing education, employment, and social services. By partnering with the NCPD, development organizations can help break down these barriers, ensuring that PWDs are included and empowered in the agricultural sector. This inclusivity aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 10, which emphasizes reducing inequalities.
2. Unique Skills and Abilities: Contrary to common misconceptions, persons with disabilities possess unique skills, talents, and abilities that can contribute to the success of agricultural development. Through proper training, support, and specialized resources, PWDs can actively participate in various farming activities, such as crop cultivation, livestock rearing, and agribusiness. Their involvement can bring diversity and innovative perspectives to the sector, increasing productivity and efficiency.
3. Economic Empowerment: Partnering with the NCPD and involving PWDs in agriculture can pave the way for their economic empowerment. By providing equal opportunities and resources, development partners can assist in creating sustainable livelihoods for PWDs reducing poverty rates within this marginalized community. This empowerment aligns with President Bio’s vision of an inclusive society where no one is left behind.
4. Social Impact: Engaging PWDs in agriculture can transform their lives and the wider community. By promoting their active involvement, development partners can challenge societal stereotypes and shift perceptions about disabilities. This attitude change can foster empathy, reduce discrimination, and promote a more inclusive society where every citizen is valued and respected.
The Ability of PWDs to Promote President Bio’s “Big Five Agenda”:
President Bio’s “Big Five Agenda” is a comprehensive development plan encompassing sectors crucial to Sierra Leone’s growth, including agriculture. In partnering with the NCPD, development partners can harness the abilities of PWDs to promote this agenda effectively:
1. Increased Agricultural Productivity: Through training programs and accessible agricultural resources, development partners can enhance the skills and knowledge of PWDs, enabling them to contribute to increased agricultural productivity. By leveraging their unique perspectives and capabilities, we can tap into a previously untapped workforce, positively impacting food production and overall sector growth.
2. Technology and Innovation: PWDs often possess a heightened ability to adapt to new technologies and innovate in unconventional ways. Developing partners can harness their creativity to create and implement practical and sustainable solutions by involving them in agricultural initiatives. This collaboration can advance farming techniques, irrigation systems, and crop diversification, boosting farm productivity and resilience. Perhaps more importantly, through the Ministry of Agriculture, the government should ensure that PWDs tap into the production and sales of some of the agricultural implements like hoes, cutlass, watering cans, etc.; this is in tandem with the promotion of the Local Content Policy.
3. Advocacy and Awareness; PWDs, when empowered and involved, become ambassadors for change within their communities. By engaging PWDs in agriculture, development partners can amplify their voices, allowing them to advocate for disability rights, inclusivity, and the importance of agricultural development. This advocacy creates a ripple effect, raising awareness and fostering support for President Bio’s local and national agendas.
In conclusion, inclusive agricultural development requires the collaboration of development partners with the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities in Sierra Leone. We can achieve greater productivity, inclusivity, and social impact by actively involving PWDs in President Bio’s “Operation Feed Sierra Leone” initiative. Development partners must recognize and harness the unique skills, abilities, and perspectives that persons with disabilities bring to the agricultural sector. Together, we can build a more prosperous Sierra Leone where no one is left behind.